Posts Tagged ‘betrayal’

It was like a scene out of Office Space with a more twisted logic. The new employee sauntered over to my cubicle to inform me that I would be responsible for five sales per week in another department. The conniving little prick didn’t care that I already was juggling my department and another one that was handed to me after the former manager quit. He also didn’t give two shits that I hadn’t had a raise in two years. Nope! All he cared about was being a hero in front of the boss at my expense. To add insult to injury, he condescendingly told me that the boss “already gave me his approval for this.” The message was clear: resistance is futile and “Reverse Seniority” was in full effect …

My friends told me not the take the job. They said the boss, aka “Big Man,” was a demanding prick who expected everything but gave nothing in return. As proof, they said he would brag about his vacation to vacation to Cabo San Lucas to employees who hadn’t had a raise in years. Since I was dead broke college student, I was forced to ignore their warnings and work for “The Company.” (Cue “Imperial March” theme music.)

During my first few months on the job, Big Man was somewhat as my friends described. He drove his Porsche to the office every day, had a different Rolex for every day of the week, and loved to regale us with tales of vacations in faraway lands such as Jamaica, Mexico, and the French Riviera. All that said, he did manage to be nice to me during my first six months; he even regularly complimented me on my columns that appeared in the college newspaper.

About a year in, I noticed that I went from being the star employee to “just another lazy-ass college kid livin’ off his parents’ money.” (It never occurred to him that I took out loans and was working for him to pay my way through school.) According to him, my sales numbers weren’t high enough, my attitude wasn’t positive enough, and I simply couldn’t do enough for The Company. (Cue “The Imperial March” theme.) It bothered me until some of the old timers said not to take it personally, the same thing happened to them. So I soldiered on.

Things completely went to shit during my third year on the job. By then, a new crop of freshmen meant a new crop of employees who soon became the apple of Big Man’s eye. Three of them in particular – Overbite, Double Chin, and Mop Top – were particularly adept at lying, flattering, and sucking the boss’s balls enough to allow them to fly up the company ladder three rungs at a time. Soon, these rookies became the de facto managers and directors of we who’d been there for years. Everything came to a head the day Mop Top sauntered over to my cubicle and saddled me with the additional responsibilities.

As angry as I was, I knew there was no use arguing about it. Mop Top was Big Man’s new pet and the two of them had already made up their minds. Plus, I already knew Big Man’s take on human resources management: “If you don’t like it, there’s the door.” And even if I did complain about being overworked and underpaid, I already know what he would’ve said: “A company has only two priorities: to its profits and its stockholders.” It was a nice way of saying, “Fuck off! You don’t deserve anything.”

Needless to say, Big Man went through the roof when I quit. In a matter of seconds, he was reminded about how much he and The Company (Cue “Imperial March” theme.) actually needed me. But instead of conducting an exit interview to learn about his shortcomings as a leader, he chose to yell and scream at me. “How can you do this to me after all I’ve done for you?” he said. I had to point out to him that a company’s only priorities are to its profits and stockholders. As CEO of J.P. Ribner, LLC, I owed it to my stockholders – my wife and child – to earn more money with a company would pay me more and I my work would be appreciated. I’m sure the lesson was lost on him.

Sadly, reverse seniority is common amongst narcissistic bosses. Their attention spans are notoriously short and since they believe they’re entitled to everything, they’re unable to appreciate what any one employee has done. Also, quiet, steady, hardworking employees don’t create the kind of excitement that silver-tongued false flatterers do, so it’s easy for the slow-and-steady types to fade into the darkness while the spotlight is trained on the boss and his pets. If you have a narcissistic boss, my advice is simple: Fire them before they fire you. My only regret is that it took my three years to do it.

Cue “Imperial March” theme.

evil.friend  Friendship is a powerful word but it’s one that means different things to different people. I discovered this at the very moment when someone who I thought of as a friend showed me just how differently he and I defined that ten-letter word.

It happened during the lowest time in my life. People who thought they knew me thought they knew what I was going through, but I hardly let on how bad things really were. I received some very bad news one particular night and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I became overloaded with emotions and needed to unload my problems onto somebody, anybody who would just take a minute to tell me that I was a good person and that everything would work out in the end. In my time of need, I reached out to a “friend.”

In doing so, I committed the gravest of social errors.

He was quick to scold me for burdening him with information he didn’t ask for nor wanted. And he was nasty about it, too. Like a jungle snake hiding in the thickets, he sprang, sinking sharpened fangs deeply into my exposed flesh. He released his venom into my veins as cold, reptilian eyes fed upon the pain caused by his vicious words. He was every bit as demeaning as a self-righteous parent imperiously lording over an errant child. Everything inside me was screaming, “Stand up for yourself!” but I froze instead. I accepted my metaphorical whipping with a bowed head and downcast gaze.

I’m sure you would never let someone talk to you like that. I allowed it, however, because I knew he was right… somewhat. Having my verbal diarrhea dumped upon him the moment he walked through the door was the last thing he expected to hear when he came over. But looking back upon it, he also took a gigantic shit upon my head! This was the same “friend” who regularly shared deeply personal things about himself and never once did I seek it. Instead, I listened and gave advice when and where I could. That’s what friends are for, right?

I’m not proud to admit that I remained friends with this person for years after the incident. And he reminded me of the differences in how we defined “friendship,” as well. I let every slight pile atop my silent and long-festering resentment until I finally initiated a parting of the ways. There’s was no cinematic revenge moment, no grandiloquent speech … I simply clicked my mouse and un-friended him, a “breakup” of sorts in the social media age. My consolation is that this experience taught me much, and I’ve since handled similar situations more assertively.

So, if you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, troubled by something that happened with someone you know, try to recall this little cautionary tale. Ask yourself what are the qualities that you look for in a friend. Do you live up to them? Do they?

*Featured artwork by Steven Michael Pace of Flint, MI.